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Prentiss/Prentice Families

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Alternate Spellings - Prentis, Prentiss, Prentice

Links - Medicine Page (for ad by S. V. Prentiss for his drug store), Beach, Green, Maxfield, Myers, Drury, Willits

Contacts - Joe Dewald has contacted us and corrected an error about the ancestry of the Mercer County Prentiss family. He states there is no connection to Valentine Prentis of Massachusetts (who is his direct ancestor). We had been led astray by the name of Stanton Valentine Prentiss in Mercer County. Joe has a Prentice Newsletter online as well as other sites with Prentice information.

In studying the life of Elder Stanton Prentiss of Mercer County it became clear that the family was very energetic - not only did they all have several careers - they traveled about a great deal and participated actively in community life. They were apparently also musically talented. Elder Stanton Prentiss sang the Star Spangled Banner when the New Boston Sharpshooters departed for camp during the Civil War. The designation "Elder" was not a religious one, it simply distinguished the older Stanton from his son, Stanton Valentine Prentiss.

Prentice/Prentiss Families of Massachusetts

Joe Dewald tells us that the progenitor of our Prentiss families was Thomas Prentice of Newton, Massachusetts. Thomas is not known to be related to Valentine Prentis whom we had mistakenly shown as ancestral to the Mercer County Prentiss family. There were both Stanton and Prentiss families in Massachusetts and much intermarrying between them. One finds the name Stanton Prentiss often, and also the name Prentice Stanton in old records.

We believe the Stanton Prentiss of Mercer County, born about 1793, in Essex, Massachusetts, was the son of Stanton Prentis born 1750 in Massachusetts, and died 1826 in Marietta, Ohio. He was married to Mary Fowler, born 1761, died 1822 in Ohio. Stanton Prentis, born 1750, of Massachusetts, was a Captain in the Revolutionary War, a wagonmaster in the French Army, and a seaman. Among the children of Stanton and Mary Fowler Prentis were Jenison Prentis, born 1800, and Royal Prentis. Royal Prentis was a pioneer journalist in Ohio who, with his brother Jenison, established the Marietta Gazette and Register. We believe Stanton Prentiss of Mercer County was also a son of this family, naming a son Royal, probably after his brother.

Stanton and Susannah Brookhart Prentiss

Stanton Prentiss of Mercer County was born about 1793 in Essex, Massachusetts, and died about 1875 in Mercer County, Illinois. His tombstone in New Boston Cemetery tells us he served in the War of 1812 (Sgt.) in Steeds Company, Virginia Militia, but does not now contain readable dates. Stanton married Susannah Brookhart in Woods County, Virginia, 11/13/1817, so his travels had already begun. Susannah was born about 1800 and died 1852 at New Boston, Illinois. A biography of their son, Stanton V. (Valentine) Prentiss in the History of Mercer County, Illinois, 1882, tells us he was born in Miegs County, Ohio May 10, 1826. The family moved further west and resided in Hancock County, until 1833 when they moved on to Rock Island County, Illinois, residing in that part that later became Drury Township (The History of Rock Island County notes S. Prentiss as an early settler in Drury Township). The Mercer County History tells us that while settled at Warsaw, in Hancock County [state not specified], they were often compelled to leave their farm, and flee to Fort Edwards for safety from the Indians, as this was at the time when Black Hawk was making his raids up and down the Mississippi. We believe the referenced Hancock County must have been in Illinois because of the reference to the Mississippi (curiously there is a Warsaw town and a Hancock County in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois - we need to research this a little more to be sure of the location).

Stanton had purchased the Northeast fraction of Section 3, Township 15 North, Range 6 West, just along the Mississippi River in future Eliza Township, Mercer County, on 7/2/1839 so they already had ties to Mercer County. From later newspaper articles this seems to have been part of Bay Island, a hunting and fishing area that the citizens of New Boston and Eliza Township considered their own private preserve. The 1882 History states that Stanton, Jr. in 1882 owned 1900 acres of land on Bay Island, all in one body and under fence, forming the largest pasture in the county, and the largest body owned by any one person. This is an interesting note, as when the settlers first came it was usual to own small plots of land along the River in addition to the larger inland farms. These small plots furnished timber for building and for firewood. This note referring to the land as "fenced pasture" indicates the timber may have been all taken by 1882. Among our Eikenbary family papers we have an advertisement from a group of men who were warning people to stay away from Bay Island since they were using it for hunting purposes. So apparently the Prentiss family were also ardent sportsmen.

The family is found in the Rock Island County, Illinois, census in 1850: Stanton Prentiss, 55, farmer, farm valued $2000, born Massachusetts; Susan, age 50, born Pennsylvania; Eliza, age 22, born Ohio; Rosetta, age 19, born Ohio, and Sally, age 17, born Illinois. Next door to them is son, Royal Prentiss, age 26, born Ohio. (Royal Prentiss died 2/19/1867 and is buried in New Boston Cemetery.) Stanton and Susannah had another daughter, Nancy, who married Charles Drury, 5/1/1838, in Rock Island County.

According to the History of Mercer County, Illinois, 1882, Nancy died just 11 months later (probably in childbirth). The History also tells us that son Stanton V. Prentiss spent two years in California, so he was probably in California in 1850 . There may have been one or two more children of Stanton and Susannah that we have not been able to identify.

Daughter Eliza Prentiss married Cyrus H. Maxfield, 9/14/1851, in Rock Island, County. They moved to New Boston Township in Mercer County where they are found in the 1860 Census: Cyrus Maxfield, 32, liveryman, born Maine; Eliza, 32, born Ohio; Ada, 7, Il; Sue, 3, Il; Stanton Prentiss, 34, druggist, born Ohio; Enos Beach, 17, laborer, born In; Sydney Beach, 19, laborer, born In; Mary A. McCormick, 22, domestic, born In. Stanton is Eliza's brother. The two Beach boys who were working for Cyrus were sons of the Martha Beach who married Stanton, Sr (see below). We will be putting up a Maxfield page where we will follow this family further. Stanton Prentiss, Jr., probably got his later interest in livestock from his brother-in-law, as Cyrus Maxfield took several prizes for his horses in the 1859 Agricultural Fair.

The Prentiss family moved to New Boston Township in Mercer County about 1852, just before the death of Susannah. Son Stanton V. Prentiss apparently returned from California by 1853 as he and his father jointly purchased the W2NW Section 10, Township 14 North, Range 3 West, on 6/30/1853. Stanton, Sr., purchased the SENE Section 5, Township 13 North, Range 5 West on 5/13/1853. Stanton, Sr., also purchased additional land along the River, SESE Section 26, Township 14N, Range 6W. Prentiss extensive holdings along the Mississippi River can be seen on the 1875 Eliza Township plat map. Also see the New Boston Township plat map where the River edge land continues down to New Boston. There is also Prentiss land shown in the NENE Section 29 on the New Boston map but we cannot read the given name. The name appears to end in "er" so may be Mortimer Prentiss (see below). S. V. Prentiss is found on the 5/14/1861 delinquent tax list in the Aledo Weekly Record, for 98 cents in taxes on the NENE Sec 23 T14N6W, 40 acres (this too would have been River edge land.)

On 8/26/1854, Stanton Prentiss married a widow, Mrs. Martha Beach. We have been unable to identify her first husband, but have added a Beach page. In the 1860 census Martha Prentiss is censused in the household of a Green family: Thomas Green, 36, cooper, born NJ; Laura Green, 29, born CN [+5 children]; Martha Prentiss, 45, born CN. We do not know if Martha and Stanton separated, or if Martha was only visiting the Greens at the time of the census. The Green wife was Martha's daughter. Also there were connections between the Green family and the Prentiss family in Ohio. We will be putting up a Green page. Stanton Prentiss is alone in the 1860 census in New Boston: Stanton Prentiss, 67, druggist, born Ma. He may have been partner in his son's store ( see ad on the Medicine page). Stanton is shown in the 1870 census still alone in New Boston township: Stanton Prentice, 76, retired farmer, born Ma. Martha is not found in the 1870 census although the Thomas Green family is still there.

Daughter Rosetta Prentiss married Levi W. Myers on 6/8/1854 in Mercer County, Illinois. According to the History of Mercer County, Illinois, 1882, Levi was an abolitionist, who for a number of years was editor of the Wappello Republican in Iowa.

Daughter Sarah Prentiss was born 2/18/1833 and died 4/21/1857 in Mercer County. She married Job E. Willits 6/8/1854 in Mercer County. They had one child Eva, born about 1855. Eva is living with Job and stepmother Carrie Baxter Willits in the 1860 census. Eva's parentage is given incorrectly in the Willits History by Ted Bartlett, but there is no doubt, as Sarah Prentiss's tombstone in New Boston Cemetery identifies her as the wife of Job E. Willits. Eva married Landis Kellar 11/11/1886 in Mercer County.

Son Stanton Valentine Prentiss was born 5/10/1826 in Miegs County, Ohio, and died 3/18/1899 in Mercer County, Illinois. He married Hannah Elizabeth Creviston on 5/25/1865 in Mercer County, Illinois. Hannah was born 4/8/1844 and died 10/17/1935 in Mercer County. Both are buried in New Boston Cemetery. Stanton V. Prentiss is shown in the census in 1860 with his sister Eliza Prentiss Maxfield (see census record above). Stanton's occupation in 1860 is shown as druggist, and we know he had a drug store by 1855 (see ad on Medicine page linked above). Curiously, his biography in the History of Mercer County, 1882, states "he has always been engaged in farming and raising stock; the latter very extensively. During the period between 1852 and 1857, he also ran a dry goods and grocery store." His stint as a druggist is not mentioned so his father may have been the mainstay in the drugstore. Stanton and Lizzie Prentice are found in New Boston Town in the 1860 census: Stanton, age 44, born Ohio; Lizzie H., 26, born Indiana; Park, 3, born Illinois. Stanton's occupation at this time is given as dealer in stock (livestock). He apparently had a good eye for livestock as he was a judge in the cattle and oxen department of the 1864 agricultural fair. Son Park died at the age of 19 on 6/16/1886, and is buried in New Boston Cemetery. Stanton and Lizzie had another son Don, born 1877 and died 1948 in Mercer County. He was married to Minerva Eschbach, born 1878, died 1956 in Mercer County. Both are buried in New Boston Cemetery. Don Prentiss was a road surveyor in 1903.

A Mortimer Prentiss family is found in the 1860 census in New Boston Town: Mortimer Prentiss, age 37, dentist, born Indiana; Hannah, age 34, born Indiana; Melvin, age 12, born Indiana; Mortimer, age 10, born Indiana; Samuel, age 8, born Ohio; Francina, age 6; Jessie, age 4, Dudley, age 2, Emma, age 7/12, the last four all born Illinois indicating the family was in Mercer County by 1854. Mortimer married Hannah Trembly in Union County, Indiana on 12/6/1846. Mortimer and family were in Brownville Township, Union County, Indiana in 1850. Mortimer may have been either closely or distantly related to the New Boston Prentiss family. Since he was born about 1823 he could even fit in as son. We think that highly unlikely however as he would have been only 10 years old when Stanton and Susannah came to Illinois and it seems unlikely they would have left him behind. There is a curious entry in a Mercer County newspaper: Sheriff's sale in favor of Stanton V. Prentiss against M. M. Prentis & Courtney Drury Lot 5, Block 3, Town of New Boston. Public sale November 21, 1859. So they certainly knew each other but a forced sale seems unlikely if they were closely related. We have linked Mortimer Prentiss on our Medicine page, not only because he was a dentist, but because he also advertised a remedy for cholera in 1865. His interests certainly followed those of the Stanton Prentiss family. The Mortimer Prentiss family was gone by 1870. We have yet to check the 1880 census for his whereabouts.

Another Prentice family is found in Aledo in 1870. This is not in our area of study but we give the census record below for the benefit of researchers:
1870 Census, Aledo, Illinois
Hosea Prentice, 51, stove and tinware dealer, born Vermont
Maria Prentice, 50, born England
Ann Eliza, 18, born Wisconsin (married Thomas Stafford)
Ida, 15, born Wisconsin
Isaac Prentice, age 75, born Vermont
Sarah Prentice, age 70, born Vermont
Robert Boyd, age 28, stove and tinware dealer, born Pennsylvania.